Grading the Panthers: Recapping the 2011-12 Season

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 21: Scottie Upshall #19 of the Florida Panthers celebrates with Tyson Strachan #23, Ed Jovanovski #55, and Shawn Matthias #18 after scoring a third period goal against the New Jersey Devils in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the BankAtlantic Center on April 21, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. The panthers defeated the Devils 3-0. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Well, the offseason is here now, two weeks later than we are used to...but two weeks shorter until meaningful hockey returns. The Panthers gave it a good run this year, injecting life into the South Florida hockey scene. It's finally cool to be a Florida Panther fan again, and I don't know about you, but I welcome bandwagon fans. I've said it before, today's bandwagoners are tomorrow's die hards. It would be easy to rest on this seasons unexpected success and say, "Everyone's an A-plus! Cookies and ice cream all around," but that wouldn't make for very interesting reading.

If this type of thing is your cup of tea, click on through! If not, nothing to see here, move along.

There are many assorted metrics out there by which we could measure the Florida Panthers' performance for this past season. I used point shares divided by time on ice and multiplied by 20000 to come up with a number that would look better than .0004553. This method also magically removes goalie bias, which you will see if you look at the point shares for any season which featured Roberto Luongo or Tomas Vokoun. I graded on a curve, negative ratings earn a failing grade, 0-30 earn a D, 31-50 a C, 51-75 a B, and above that gets an A. The minimum games played was set at >1. Remember, this is based on productivity per minute, so there may be some lesser known names interspersed with the usual suspects.

F is for Fuggedaboutit

David Booth:
After only six games at the beginning of this season, Florida was 3-3 (.500), and Booth had collected one assist and a minus-6 rating in only 93 minutes of ice time. To shake things up a little, Booth (along with Stephen Reinprecht) was sent out to Vancouver for Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson. Rating: -64.5

Ryan Carter:
Just one game later Ryan Carter was placed on waivers. Florida sat at 4-3 (571), and Dale Tallon felt the team could use another jolt. Stats don't lie, and Carter was a non-factor in 65 minutes, collecting zero points and a minus-1 rating, six penalty minutes and only three shots on goal. Rating: -61.5

Bracken Kearns:
Kearns filled in at center for the Panthers when the mid-season injury bug bit the Cats to the tune of seven forwards sitting in the press box. Maybe the sample size was too small in this case, but Kearns played five games. In 36 minutes of ice time, he scored zero points, had an even rating, and racked up two five-minute fighting majors. He wasn't all bad, as Florida went 3-2 (.600) with him in the lineup. Rating: -55.6

Tim Kennedy:
Florida posted a 13-9-5 (.574) record with Kennedy in the lineup. He totalled 301 minutes of ice time, racking up one goal on 22 shots and one assist with a rating of minus-11. Florida acquired Sean Sullivan from the San Jose Sharks for Kennedy on January 26th, after having scratched him for eight consecutive games. Rating: -39.9

Marco Sturm:
As already mentioned, Sturm came over in the David Booth trade just six games into the season. He missed just over two months with a variety of ailments. He has scored three goals on 62 shots, collecting two assists in 508 minutes over 42 games (21-10-11, .631), with a minus-3 rating. Sturm has seven 20 goal seasons to his credit, but his NHL time may be coming to an end - I've heard it said in the gamethread that retirement is staring this guy in the face. Rating: -11.8

Jerred Smithson:
Smithson is a passable defensive forward with good size. He's better than average on faceoffs, and can play each of the three forward positions. Florida picked him up from the Nashville Predators late in February, and he played with the Panthers for 16 games, the team going 9-4-2 (.667). In 176 minutes, Smithson has taken 12 shots on goal, potting zero while getting credit on one assist and a plus-1 rating. His offensive skills are nonexistent. His NHL niche will remain the fourth line, as he at times doles out a LOT of hits. Rating: -11.4

John Madden:
Madden joined the Panthers for a little depth at forward in January. The veteran center didn't get on the board until his 20th Panther game. He finished the regular season with three goals on 33 shots, no assists and a minus-4 rating in 371 minutes over 31 games (13-9-9, .565). When next season starts, he will be 39 years old, but still is a capable penalty-killer and a passable bottom six forward. Rating: -5.4

D is for D'oh!

Scottie Upshall:
Suffice it to say, if he had a choice, this one wouldn't go onto Upshall's career resume. Upshall is a spark plug. He's a real digger and a heck of a competitor who doesn't shy away from the corners. He didn't get much in the way of results, and went on the IR after 15 games with an upper body injury. He returned for two games in January, only to go back on the IR with a sports hernia, only joining the team again for the final nine games of the season. In 26 games (10-8-8, .538), Upshall was on the ice for 331 minutes, scoring two goals on 53 shots with three assists, a minus-3 rating and 29 penalty minutes. Rating: 6.0

Jack Skille:
Skille had shoulder problems (arising from his enthusiasm trying to negate stray icing calls) that cost him almost half of the season. In his 46 games he skated for a total of 550 minutes. He may be the fastest skater on the team, but the puck doesn't seem to bounce his way very much. He was one of the brightest looking Panthers early in the season, and somehow couldn't manage to pot anything until the 14th game. He ended up with four goals on 76 shots, six assists, a minus-9 rating and 29 penalty minutes. The Panthers posted a 22-16-8 (.565) record when Skille was in the lineup. Rating: 10.9

Matt Bradley:
Bradley is a fearless agiator, but considering his size (6'3", 200 lbs.) will always be limited in the enforcer capacity. His low end offensive skillset will always relegate him to the fourth line. Aside from this, he's a great presence for the Panthers and never goes at half-speed. He skated 489 minutes through 45 games, missing a substantial chunk of the season with a concussion. He ended up scoring three goals on 33 shots, assisting on five others with a minus-3 rating and 31 penalty minutes. The Panthers went 20-16-9 (.544) with Bradley on the ice. Rating: 12.3

Evgeny Dadonov:
Like a lot of people, this guy confused me at the start of his Panthers career (after all we did at one point have a guy named Evgeny Davydov). Dadonov was called up three times to fill in for injuries before being dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes in January. For Florida, he skated for 151 minutes over 15 games (7-5-3, .567), scoring two goals on 21 shots with one assist, a minus-4 rating and two penalty minutes. He was a shifty skater with a good shot, but lacked the size to compete with NHL economy-sized defenders. Rating: 13.2

Erik Gudbranson:
The large 19-year old started out the season as an extreme liability in the defensive end, as evidenced by his team low minus-19 rating. As the season wore on, he seemed to learn from pairing mate Ed Jovanovski. By the end of the year he was looking like a legitimate NHL defender. He's also a born leader, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a "C" on his sweater sometime in the next five years. In 72 games, he skated 1022 minutes as the team went 32-26-14 (.542). He potted two goals on 76 shots along with six assists and a team second highest 78 penalty minutes. Rating: 13.7

Mike Santorelli:
Creative on offense, Santorelli failed to live up to expectations this season after scoring 20 on a disappointing 2010-11 Panthers team. It's hard to believe that he played 60 games (29-19-12, .583), as he was so often invisible during his time on ice, 744 minutes. He scored nine goals on 117 shots, also making two assists and posting a minus-10 rating with 18 penalty minutes. Rating: 16.1

Krys Barch:
Barch was picked up from the Dallas Stars in December to provide depth at forward on the fourth line. Barch is tough, and isn't afraid to drop the gloves at a moments notice with anybody. His offensive skills are deceptive, and he can be counted on for an occasional goal. He played 308 minutes over 41 games (18-14-9, .549) with Florida, scoring two goals on 22 shots with three assists, a plus-2 rating and a team high 81 penalty minutes. Rating: 26.0

C is for Competitive

Tomas Kopecky:
Kopecky is limited in his offensive capabilities, but still possesses a heavy shot and a propensity to camp out in front of the opposing netminder like few other Panthers. He's also an A+ penalty killer. Cursed with a steel plate in his head, he will not drop the gloves under any circumstances. He played 1382 minutes over 80 games (38-24-18, .588) this season, taking 143 shots on goal and netting 10 of them. He also collected 22 assists, a minus-8 rating and 32 penalty minutes. Rating: 30.4

Bill Thomas:
At 28, Thomas hasn't had many opportunities to shine at the NHL level, and at this point in his career the best he can hope for is a mid-season injury stopgap. He skated in seven games (2-3-2, .429), totalling 61 minutes, and potting one goal in nine shots on net. Rating: 32.8

Keaton Ellerby:
Ellerby has an excellent 6'4" frame that could still use some filling out. A true defenseman, he was Florida's default seventh defenseman for most of the season. In the 40 games (19-13-8, .575) in which he appeared, he skated 616 minutes, taking 45 shots on goal without scoring. He also made five assists and posted a minus-3 rating with 10 penalty minutes. Rating: 35.7

Shawn Matthias:
Matthias is a lot faster than opposing teams are prepared to handle at times. He's a solid two way faceoff man, but his passing sometimes gets him into trouble. He skated 1091 minutes over 79 games (38-23-18, .595), making career highs with 10 goals, 14 assists and 49 penalty minutes. He also registered a minus-2 on the campaign. Rating: 36.7

Ed Jovanovski:
Old friend Jovocop rejoined the Panthers on that furious signing day back in July. Large and strong, he's a natural blueline talent and an asset on the power play. At times he takes bad penalties. He skated 1102 minutes over 66 games (32-18-16, .606) this season, missing 16 due to a broken hand. He ended up scoring three goals on 58 shots with 10 assists, a minus-11 rating, and 31 penalty minutes. Rating: 39.9

Mark Cullen:
Five years removed from his latest NHL action, the 33-year old Cullen skated for a total of 48 minutes over six Panthers games (4-2-0, .667) during a November/December callup. He only took one shot on goal, collecting an assist and a plus-2 rating with two penalty minutes. Rating: 41.7

Mike Weaver:
The smallest Panther may have been the hardest working. Only 5'9", Weaver was one of three Panthers that appeared in every game (38-26-18, .573), playing 1667 minutes. He didn't score any goals on 51 shots, but we didn't expect him to. He's scored only six in 503 career NHL games. He did, however, score a career high 16 assists, a minus two rating, and only 14 penalty minutes. Rating: 44.4

Michal Repik:
Repik is a slick puck handler with a nose for the net, and another in a long line of mid-season injury replacements for the Panthers. He played 176 minutes over 17 games (6-5-6, .529), scoring two goals on 35 shots, along with three assists, a minus-3 rating and six penalty minutes. Rating: 45.5

Wojtek Wolski:
A great puck handler and instinctive scorer who sometimes lacks intensity, Wolski was acquired in February to give the Panthers a little help in the shootout. He played 325 minutes over 22 games (11-5-6, .636), scoring four goals on 39 shots, along with five assists, and a minus-3 rating. Rating: 49.2

B is for Bergenheim

Sean Bergenheim:
Although Bergenheim can sometimes be accused of losing focus on the ice, he is defensively sound and has a great nose for the puck. He'll shoot from anywhere, but is especially fond of the old wraparound. In 1018 minutes of ice time over 62 games (31-19-12, .597) this season, he scored 17 goals on 185 shots, along with six assists, a minus-5 rating and 48 penalty minutes. Rating: 51.1

Colby Robak:
Robak has a big frame and a great point shot, but lacks consistency in using his size to his advantage in the NHL game. In 38 minutes over three games (1-2-0, .333), he didn't score, taking one shot on goal. He finished with a plus-1 in his short NHL debut. Rating: 52.6

Marcel Goc:
Goc is capable in every situation, and is the best faceoff man on the Panthers. He missed two months due to concussion troubles in the middle of the season, but still finished with 1004 minutes in 57 games (25-19-13, .553), scoring 11 goals on 97 shots with 16 assists, a plus-5 rating and only 10 penalty minutes. Rating: 57.8

Scott Clemmensen:
A nine year veteran goaltender on his third season with the Panthers, Clemmensen started the season on the IR, recovering from knee surgery. When he joined the club in November, he was counted on to provide the Cats with a solid option at the number two backstop. He more than delivered, going 14-6-6 (.654) on the season, shutting out the Dallas Stars in his season debut. He finished the season with a .913 save percentage and a 2.57 GAA. Rating: 60.0

Jose Theodore:
The undisputed number one guy, Theodore turned back the clock and piloted the Panthers to the postseason with a 22-16-11 (.561) record, with three shutouts. He's a butterfly style goaltender with a flair for the dramatic, sometimes vulnerable to the high shot. He finished the season with a .917 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA. Rating: 63.6

Dmitry Kulikov:
An impact defenseman with a solid shot from the point, Kulikov tallied a career high 28 points despite missing 23 games due to knee surgery. In 1268 minutes through 58 games (25-18-15, .560) he scored four goals on 104 shots, with 24 assists, a minus-5 rating and 36 penalty minutes. Rating: 74.1

Tyson Strachan:
A solid, physical stay-at-home type of defenseman, Strachan performed well in an extended callup near the end of the season. In 215 minutes of ice time over 15 games (6-6-3, .500), he scored one goal on 14 shots, assisting on two others and logging a plus-1 rating with five penalty minutes. Rating: 74.4

A is for All-Star

Stephen Weiss:
The longest tenured Panther was finally rewarded with his first postseason after 637 NHL games. A gifted center who makes his teammates better, Weiss is a solid two-way player with a sneaky good shot. In 1641 minutes over 80 games (37-25-18, .575), he scored 20 goals on 149 shots, with 37 assists, a plus-5 rating and 60 penalty minutes.
Rating: 75.6

Brian Campbell:
Maybe the craftiest playmaker in the NHL, Campbell led the Panthers with 49 assists, and ranked second in the NHL for power play assists. He played in every Panthers game (38-26-18, .573), leading the NHL in time on ice, with 2206 minutes. He also scored four goals on 131 shots with a minus-9 rating and a Lady Byng Trophy qualifying six penalty minutes. Rating: 76.2

Jacob Markstrom:
Markstrom is blessed with both freakish size and natural quickness. He started the season on the Panthers roster due to an injury to backup Scott Clemmensen. Dubbed "The Alien," Markstrom compiled a 2-4-1 (.357) record. In one span of five games early this year, Markstrom had a stretch where he saved 152-of-161 opposing shots (that's a save percentage of .944, for those counting). He finished his extended NHL tryout with a .923 save percentage and a 2.66 GAA. Rating: 83.6

Tomas Fleischmann:
The knock on Fleischmann has always been his durability. He answered that by appearing in every game, playing 1566 minutes (38-26-18, .573) for the Panthers this season. His moves are smooth, and he may be the most gifted puckhandler on the team. He's not very strong, so he tends to lose some battles down in the corners. He managed to lead the team with a career high 27 goals on 217 shots, along with 34 assists, a minus-7 rating and 26 minutes in the box. Rating: 90.7

Jason Garrison:
Garrison played 1825 minutes over 77 games (37-23-17, .591) for the Panthers. We always knew he was a solid defenseman, but this year he came out of nowhere with a ridiculous cannon shot to set the record for Florida defenseman scored goals, with 16 on 168 shots, along with 17 assists, a plus-6 rating and 32 penalty minutes. Rating: 91.0

Mikael Samuelsson:
Samuelsson was acquired in the early season David Booth trade. Unbelievably, he only played 766 minutes for the Panthers, over 48 games (21-16-11, .552). He ended up scoring 13 goals on 125 shots, along with 15 assists, a plus-2 rating, and 14 penalty minutes. Rating: 91.4

Kris Versteeg:
Florida's "per minute" MVP, Versteeg played 1414 minutes over 71 games (32-22-17, .570) for the Panthers. He scored 23 goals on 181 shots, collecting 31 assists and a plus-4 rating with 49 penalty minutes. Along with Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann, Versteeg was on a point per game pace through the first half of the season before cooling off. Rating: 93.4

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